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[personal profile] lyn_t
Originally published in Boat, Bourbon, Basement, by Ancients Gate Zines. Many thanks to Annie for the beta and encouragement and to Judy for taking a chance on a new fandom.



There were two roses today. Tony slowed his approach when he saw the flowers placed on the side of his desk. Yesterday there had been three and the day before that, four and the day before that, well, you get the picture. He couldn’t help straightening his shoulders just a little and passing a hand over his already perfectly groomed hair.

“Tony’s got a girlfriend,” Ziva crowed from across the room and Tony flashed a triumphant grin.

“More than one apparently,” he said glibly. “You might have noticed, Zee-va, that these aren’t the first.”

Her face fell a little at that and he couldn’t help giving a mental high-five at his one-upmanship.

She scowled at him, then looked over at McGee, who sat, gaze locked on his computer, studiously avoiding their sniping. “I saw her, you know.”

McGee looked up briefly then ducked back down behind the cover of his computer screen. “Who?” he asked.

“Tony’s girlfriend… at least, I’m guessing it was a girl. Had a skirt on. Then again, it could have been one of those transcenduals.”

“Transgender,” Tony snapped automatically and immediately wished he hadn’t when he saw the satisfied smile on Ziva’s face.

“Well, you’d know, after all,” she drawled. “You’re dating her.”

Tony refused to let his smile slip even though it felt frozen on his face. If only you knew, Zee-va, he taunted silently. If only you knew just what an Oscar winning act I have to put on so no one learns my little secret. He had to admit if this particular secret got out, it wouldn’t be exactly little. More of Everest proportions. “Jealous, Officer David? I mean, I’ve seen some of your dates and I’m not sure that they even qualify as human, let alone male.”

Score one for DiNozzo, he cheered when she actually looked lost for a comeback for the briefest moment.

“Do you mind?” McGee cut in before Ziva could give a suitably biting response. “Some of us are actually working here.”

“Ooh…” Tony perched on the edge of McGee’s desk, eager to divert Ziva’s attention. “Have to admit I haven’t seen any secret Valentines for you so far, Probie. Taking a sabbatical from matters of the heart?”

“As a matter of fact, my girlfriend and I are having dinner at her place on Saturday night,” McGee replied smoothly. “I’m waiting to give her everything at once.” He waggled his eyebrows in what he no doubt thought was a lascivious gesture but it just looked comical.

“Is this the computer geek/model wannabe?” Tony asked, though his heart suddenly wasn’t in the ribbing. He’d seen said girlfriend and she was a knockout, not that he was going to admit that to McGeek. Probably photoshopped her picture for his desktop anyway. Frankly, apart from the roses delivered with unerring punctuality every day, his own love life had been pretty thin on the ground of late.

“No, it’s the Mensa member who runs Compu Analysis,” Gibbs said, breezing in and giving Tony’s head the normal whack as a greeting on his way past. “Get to work, DiNozzo.” He stopped and sneezed suddenly three times in rapid succession. “And get those damn flowers out of here.”

“They’re a gift, Boss!” Tony protested. “I wouldn’t want whoever sent them to think they were unappreciated.”

“David!” Gibbs ground out.

“With pleasure.” Ziva smirked and walked over to Tony’s desk.

“Hey!” Tony protested as she picked up the vase and tipped the contents into the bin.

“Now…” Gibbs sneezed again. “Get rid of the damn things, DiNozzo, and get to work.”

“Yes, Boss.” Tony picked up the wastebasket and carried it out of the bullpen. “Happy Valentine’s Day to you too,” he muttered.

“Heard that,” Gibbs called out.

“Welcome,” Tony responded.

Gibbs was on the phone when Tony walked back into the bullpen, Ziva and McGee were absent and Tony was relieved. As much as he and Ziva, and even McGee these days, seemed to spend the majority of their time together bickering like siblings, he was getting a little tired of the game. Maybe he was finally growing up. God knew, his father would be glad to hear it. Most of their arguments, and more than a time or two, a well aimed blow to his face, had resulted from what his father considered Tony’s disrespect. His father hadn’t realized, and Tony doubted he’d have cared, that the glib one-liners stemmed from knowing he had not, and never would, measure up to DiNozzo Senior’s expectations. He wondered how his father would react to his announcement that he was bi-sexual. He shuddered, already knowing the answer. Not going there. To force that unpleasant image from his mind, he sat down at his desk and powered up his computer, taking refuge behind the screen in order to partake of his favorite pastime – Gibbs-watching, but his mind instead went back to the roses. His investigative brain had already surmised that each delivery was from the same person. Each delivery had been identical, except for the number of blooms decreasing by one each day, and delivered by the same florist.

No note, no name. They were satiny and blood red in color, a small drop of water perched delicately on the tip of each perfect bloom. He remembered reaching out and brushing his finger over the first rose, the sensation soft, warm and sensuous beneath his touch.

"Figured out who they're from yet?"

Gibbs’ voice had startled him from his dreamy reverie and he jumped, wincing as a thorn bit into his finger. Sucking on the injured digit, Tony shook his head. "There's no card," he replied. He shrugged, trying to make it look nonchalant. "So many options, Boss," he added cockily.

Gibbs stared at him for a moment, his eyes narrowed. “You want to get back to work, DiNozzo? Leave your private investigation for after hours.”

“Got that rundown on Marshall coming up now, Boss.” Tony watched Gibbs walk away.
He pulled himself back from his reverie and tried to concentrate on the computer screen in front of him but his gaze kept getting drawn back to Gibbs. If only you knew who I wished they were from.

~0o0~

Tony looked nervously at the gun barrel poised an inch from his face and beyond it to Gibb's angry glare. He swallowed dryly, knowing the fury in that gaze was not reserved exclusively for Marshall, the murderer they’d been chasing down for a week. He tensed as Marshall shifted the weapon so that it dug now into the side of Tony’s head. If he could just move his arm a fraction, he had a chance at knocking the gun up and away. Marshall seemed to second-guess his intention and a strong arm snaked around Tony’s neck, cutting off most of his air and he struggled automatically, his breath wheezing as it scraped past the constriction on his throat. It didn’t help that Marshall was a six feet six bear of a man with forearms made of steel.

"Move." The gun moved away for a moment and pointed at Gibbs. "You! Stay where you are or your partner gets it."

"You've been watching too many cop shows,” Tony husked out. “What’s your favorite? CSI? Criminal Minds?”

Gibbs spoke, his tone cold and deadly. "Shut up, DiNozzo."

"Yeah," Marshall mimicked. "Shut up, DiNozzo. I’ve got the gun, remember?"

“So has he,” Tony couldn’t help saying then cursed his stupidity as he was dragged back, his air cut off totally for one awful, panic-filled moment when his feet didn't move quickly enough to stay up with his captor. Then the hold on his throat lessened somewhat and he blinked away the dark spots crowding his vision. Tony raised a hand as though to grasp for a lifeline and then everything went to hell in a hand basket.

For Marshall at least.

Tony felt the man behind him stumble and attempted to twist away from the gun, knowing there was a good chance it would fire. He fell backward, then heard twin explosions of gunshots, the first passing so close that he felt the heat from the bullet as it whizzed past his cheek. The second shot sounded a split second later and coincided with a burning pain in his arm that slithered all the way up to his shoulder and back down to his fingers. He hit the ground with a bone-jarring thump and curled instinctively around the pain in his arm as he gasped like a landed fish and struggled desperately to draw air into his lungs.

"You okay, DiNozzo?" He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, a fine trembling evident in the touch and he forced himself to stretch out then weakly began to pull himself into a seated position. "Easy, just lay back and relax, all right? Ambulance is on its way."

Ambulance? Tony's gaze flickered briefly over to Marshall who lay on his back, his arms flung wide, the gun that had spilled from his hand lying a few feet away. Marshall’s eyes were open but there was no life there, the neat bullet hole between them attesting to that fact. Tony felt a drizzle of cold sweat down his back and did not fight when Gibbs pushed him back to the ground. The pain in his arm flared again at the movement and he groaned as Gibbs wrapped a strong hand around his forearm, squeezing tightly. “Sat up too fast,” he whispered. “I’m fine.”

Gibbs nodded. “Just a graze,” he said. “Next time, try ducking away from the gun.”

“I thought I did,” Tony protested. He heard the door to the warehouse open with a loud squeal and footsteps made their way hurriedly toward them. "Sorry, Boss, I can’t believe I let him get the drop on me."

"Maybe next time you’ll pay attention on the job, DiNozzo, instead of daydreaming about those damned flowers, and which boyfriend might have sent them."

"Could have gotten you killed," Tony whispered. He could feel a shivering start up in his bones, felt cold seeping into him. “Wait,” he protested as he registered Gibb’s words, but it was too late. Gibb's face wavered in front of him and he surrendered to oblivion.

~o0o~

“Sorry, Boss.” Tony sat sideways on the examination table and gave Gibbs what he hoped was an apologetic look, but the doctor had just given him a pain shot and he was pretty certain he just looked dazed and as stupid as he felt. He glanced down at the hospital gown he wore. At least he hadn’t drooled.

Gibbs glared at him and Tony felt a chill pass over him that he was fairly certain wasn’t from shock. It was the Gibbs death stare. He knew it well, had been subjected to it more often than he cared to remember.

"You could have been killed, DiNozzo. Do you realize how lucky you are that I’m a damn good shot?" Gibbs gestured with his coffee cup to the sling on Tony's right arm, not even appearing to notice the coffee that sloshed onto the floor.

“I thought he had the drop on you,” Tony protested. “Guess I forgot you have eyes in the back of your head.”

“I don’t!” Gibbs barked. “Just super-hearing. Hell, I didn’t even need that. Why the hell do you think I asked you to wait outside? I knew he’d try to get the drop on me.”

“Might have been good if you’d filled me in on your plan.” At another glare from Gibbs, Tony sighed. “We’re a team, Boss, we look out for each other. I saw Marshall come up behind you and I acted, just like I’ve been trained to do.” He stared Gibbs straight in the eye. “Are you saying you wouldn’t have done the same thing for me?”

Gibbs looked away then, staring out the window. “I’m saying I expect you to follow my orders,” he said finally.

“I do!” Tony retorted. “Mostly. Is that it, Boss?”

"What do you mean, is that it? If you think you’re going to get off lightly because you got shot, you’re wrong. I’ve only just got started, DiNozzo."

Tony stood and wished he could at least cross his arms because his body language sucked when his legs were shaking enough to send him to the floor and his head was doing loop-de-loops. “I’m just wondering why you've been acting kind of snippy lately." Bad choice of words, he thought lamely.

A smile seemed to tease Gibbs’ lips. "Snippy, DiNozzo?"

"Bad-tempered, pissed off, angry…"

"I know what it means, DiNozzo. I just don't think I know where you're going with this."

Maybe it was the painkillers and shock combined that made Tony speak before he engaged his brain. "All right. Is it the fact that I'm bisexual that makes you uncomfortable?"

Gibbs shifted in place, and studied the floor and Tony knew that he'd scored a bulls-eye. "Come on, Boss, I know I didn’t imagine you mentioning my boyfriend before I passed out." His heart pounded in his chest. “Is that going to be a problem… for me on the team?”

“You know the policy as well as I do, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said softly. “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“That’s fine for most people,” Tony said softly, “but I was asking how you felt.”

Gibbs stared straight back at him. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

Tony nodded, but strangely he felt no relief at Gibbs’ words, just a sense of disappointment.

~o0o~

Tony had to admit he was glad for a change to have a day off work per doctor’s orders. He really wasn’t in the mood for exchanging jibes with Ziva and McGee about screwing up on the job, and he certainly didn’t want to face Gibbs again just yet. In fact, he’d lain awake most of the night, wondering if, despite Gibbs’ less than positive assurance that his sexual preferences didn’t matter, he should just bite the bullet figuratively, and transfer out of NCIS.

He’d come to the conclusion that he couldn’t do that, and it wasn’t the job itself that had made up his mind but his secret feelings for Gibbs. It had stopped being important that Gibbs would never return his feelings, and Tony certainly didn’t harbor any hope that he would. What was important was being able to nurture those feelings secretly, to take pleasure in the dreams he had, knowing that, no matter how many relationships he had, none would ever measure up to this clandestine, never to be acted upon one.

He climbed into the shower, thinking about hitting a couple of clubs to pass the evening. It was Valentine’s Day, after all, and there’d be no shortage of guys more than willing to spend the night in his bed. His arm was still pretty sore and he debated whether or not to wear the sling he’d been given at the hospital then decided it couldn’t hurt. It might be a shallow kind of desperate ploy but he figured that was exactly where he was right now. An anonymous one night stand was just the thing to get himself out of the funk he was in.

The phone rang just as he picked up the soap and he decided to ignore it, letting the machine take the call. The voice on the other end of the line though had him scrambling out and hurrying over to pick up the receiver.

“I know you’re there, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said.

“Here, Boss.” Tony looked down at the water dripping onto the carpet. “I was just taking a shower.”

“Going somewhere?” Gibbs asked.

“As a matter of fact… no. Just taking a shower. Something you need? I can come in, I mean, I’m back on duty in the morning anyway.” Tony silently cursed himself for the enthusiastic tone of his voice and hoped Gibbs was just calling to see how he was. Like he’d do that… not.

“Your report from yesterday. You finished it?”

“Almost. Just need to add a couple of things.” Like how to explain I acted like a damn rookie instead of a trained agent.

“Good. Bring it over to my house in an hour.”

“But Boss…”

“Yes, DiNozzo?”

“Can’t it wait till tomorrow? I mean, it’s six o’clock and I—“

“Do you have something better to do?”

“No, of course not. I’ll see you in an hour.” Tony hung up the phone, mentally kicked himself and went back to finish his shower.

Just over an hour later, he stood at Gibbs’ front door, report in hand, and wearing his sling. A little bit of sympathy from Gibbs wouldn’t go astray and maybe he’d be able to still head out to the club after he’d done his duty. He knocked and the door swung open. Instinct had him reaching for his weapon at the same time as he heard Gibbs call out.

“Basement, DiNozzo.”

Tony walked over to the slightly ajar door and headed down the steps, trying to shake the vivid visual image of going to his own execution.

Gibbs was bent over his boat, and Tony took a moment to admire the view.

“Put it over there.” Gibbs waved at the bench in the corner without looking up.

Tony did so then stood for a moment, feeling uncharacteristically ill at ease. “Is that it?” he asked finally.

“As a matter of fact, no, it isn’t.” Gibbs finally straightened and looked at him. He put down his sanding block and walked over to stand in front of Tony. “I’ve been thinking about what you asked me the other day and I admit I wasn’t totally straight with you.”

“Not a great choice of a word, Boss.” Tony rolled his eyes though his heart was hammering in his chest. He knew what was coming. He wondered if they’d have him back in Philly.

Gibbs shrugged and a small smile upturned his lips. “Perfect choice, because I’m not.”

“Not what?” Tony debated pinching himself. Maybe he was still actually unconscious and dreaming this whole weird scene. Maybe it was the drugs the doc had given him before he’d stitched up his arm.

Gibbs sighed then very slowly leaned forward. Tony tried to take a step back but Gibbs grabbed hold of his good arm and held him in place. “I am not…” he breathed, his lips ghosting over Tony’s “… straight.”

“Fancy that, neither am I.” Tony blinked. “Did you just say…”

Gibbs positively grinned this time. “Never seen you at a loss for words before, DiNozzo.”

“You have to admit this is a shock. Why now? Why me?”

“Why not?” Gibbs took a step back then. “If I’ve misinterpreted your feelings, then I apologize. I’d appreciate you not mentioning this to anyone.”

“No!” This time Tony took the initiative and reached out for Gibbs, pulling him to a stop.

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “No what?”

“I keep waiting for a guy to jump out and say “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”

“No cameras, Tony, just me and you.”

“Tony. Sounds strange you calling me that.”

“Do I keep calling you that or do I go back to DiNozzo?”

Tony didn’t hesitate. Moving forward, he kissed Gibbs gently. “Does that answer your question… Jethro?”

Gibbs smiled then turned and headed for the stairs, motioning for Tony to follow him. “You ever find out who the roses were from?” he asked casually as he took Tony’s hand and led him into the bedroom.

“They weren’t from you? I thought since you said what you said that maybe…”

“Nope. Told you, I’m allergic to flowers.”

“Then I need to find out who sent them and thank them,” Tony said. “After all, if they hadn’t then you wouldn’t have, and then we wouldn’t be—“

“Shut up, DiNozzo.”

“Shutting up, Boss,” Tony agreed as Gibbs pulled him closer and kissed him deeply.

“Don’t think I care who sent them,” Tony said when they came up for air.

The End

October 2013

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